November 27, 2011

House Hunters International: Hello, Buenos Aires

Description: A Buenos Aires apartment is a surprise gift
Available on

So that description, from the HGTV website, is not accurate at all.

Our international house hunters are tango-lovers Madelyn and Victor of Santa Monica, California. They're both old, but they only got married eight years ago. They're looking for a vacation home in Buenos Aires, Argentina, because they both love tango. They want to spend between $150 and $200,000 for a two bedroom apartment and they need something that fits their "tango lifestyle." That sounds like a really crappy lifestyle.

Madelyn goes to Argentina to check out the apartments by herself with the help of her realtor Pericles. Not the Athenian general.

Apartment #1 is a gorgeous old 1800 square foot apartment for $195,000. Depending on whether they want a living room and dining room, the apartment has between three and five bedrooms.

The apartment has fantastic details and sixteen foot ceilings.

Madelyn doesn't like that the kitchen ceiling is lower, even though there's a good four feet of space above her head.

What I don't like is the creepy little staircase in the kitchen that leads to the maid's quarters. Homes shouldn't have little staircases or little doors. Nothing good ever comes from that.

I also don't like that there's a tiny room that's a shower and has a glass and wood door.

Madelyn brats to her realtor, "Where do I tango?!" Have I mentioned they like to tango?

Apartment #2 is a three bedroom 1500 square foot apartment built in 1903 for $195,000. It's even in Buenos Aires' tango district. I'm surprised Chicago doesn't have an Irish dancing district.

The apartment is amazing. It's light and bright, has high ceilings, and awesome floors. Madelyn is excited that it is bigger than the first apartment and the realtor is too nice to point out that it's actually 300 square feet smaller.

Seriously, I would murder an old lady to get an apartment with herringbone floors.

I sound like a broken record (What would be the modern equivalent of that saying? A fucked up MP3?) but the dining room is also amazing.

Seriously, those floors! The molding! The chandelier! I'm moving to Argentina. I speak a little Spanish. Me llamo Meredith. Me gusta escuchar music y ir de compras. Yo soy muy bonita.

Madelyn thinks the bathroom needs to be updated, but who the hell cares? Look at those tiles! There's a stork!

The kitchen sucks - Madelyn says it's chaos - and also has a creepy little staircase, but the rest of the apartment still outweighs having to redo the kitchen.

Apartment #3 is a three bedroom 2100 square foot apartment that's currently being used as offices.

She's really offended that it's being used as an office and says incredulously, "You've got to be kidding me...I hope I'm not wasting my time." 1. What exactly were you doing that you couldn't take five minutes to look at an apartment? Sorry to keep you from surgery, Dr. Madelyn, the tangoing surgeon. 2. I hate when people say things like, "Is this a joke?" or "You've got to be kidding me," when it's clear that it's not a joke or the person isn't kidding. It's an assy thing to do.

This apartment also has high ceilings, "five meters," the realtor specifies. The metric system strikes again!

The living room is painted a horrible shade of green and the floors are covered in a horrifying carpet.

The dining room is still in good shape, except for that toxic shade of green.

Since the apartment is being used an office, the bathroom doesn't have a bathtub and shower and the kitchen doesn't have any appliances.

There's a nice interior patio. But still, this apartment is no apartment #2.

Madelyn now has an important decision to make in a ridiculous outfit. Clearly, #2 is the best apartment, so of course she doesn't choose that one. She chooses #3. We catch up with Victor and Madelyn a few months later and...

they've painted bullshit flowers on their living room's hardwood floor. Who the hell paints a hardwood floor?!?!?! Especially when they plan to tango on it.

They've also updated their bathroom to look like a suburban American bathroom with absolutely no charm. I guess I'm glad she didn't take #2 because she probably would have ruined that bathroom. Hopefully someone who truly loves vintage apartments bought #2. That thought is what gets me through the night.

November 26, 2011

House Hunters International: London Calling to the Faraway Towns

Village Life in Hertfordshire, UK
Description: A couple looks for a family home near London for around $400,000
Air date: 11/26/11 5:30 Central

Ok, so here's what you should know up front: I hate Anglophiles. And Francophiles. And all other-country-philes. I think it's dumb because if you romanticize another country, you overlook its flaws and tend to be pretty obnoxious about how awesome said country is. So with that said, meet Amanda and Darren.

Darren was born and raised in the UK and Amanda is from Mississippi and has lived in England for the past six years and they have twin toddlers. Like Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow before her, Amanda, our self-professed Anglophile, pretentiously speaks with a British accent and probably calls people named Anthony "Antony." Even the narrator likes to point out how "weird" it is that she picked up the accent so quickly. By weird she means obnoxious and affected. Amanda visits her family in Mississippi and her family is the kind of assholes who would name a child Holland. I bet there's a Madison in there somewhere too.

Back in the UK, Amanda and Darren begin looking for a home with the help of their realtor Katie. Damanda want a two bedroom, spacious home in a village close to the train for $400,000 American dollars and half a scone. Amanda wants a traditional English cottage because, ugh, of course she does, and he wants a modern home. At least she hasn't mentioned Jane Austin yet. 

House #1 is a modern two bedroom townhouse for $365,000. It's the kind of house that has doors on every room, which makes sense in that it keeps heat in the rooms, but still, a kitchen with a door on it would drive me nuts. They then look at the living room, which Amanda describes as small. Ok, so, she's lived in England for the past six years, yet it's still a surprise that an English house has small rooms? She is, as the British would say, daft.

They head upstairs to check out the bedrooms. She says the master bedroom is an odd shape. Yes, a rectangle is a very odd shape. Amanda then points out that, with regards to the size of the rooms, she has to keep in mind that she doesn't live in America anymore. Well, she hasn't lived in America for six years, so I don't know why this is such a problem. It was easier to pick up the accent than to get used to the room sizes, apparently. Darren likes the house, but she wants "something quirky" with "more of a cottage feel."

House #2 is an old, two bedroom home for $349,000.

The house comes with its own Sanford and Son-style junk pile. But it's British junk, so it's more refined. 

Amanda loves the house because it's what Americans think of when they think of an English cottage. Yes, I think of squalor and junk piles when I think of the classic English cottage. See what I mean about romanticizing? 

The kitchen isn't any better and the backyard doesn't have that much grass. It is at this point that Amanda says grass with an American accent and then asks, "I said <American accent>grass</American accent>, didn't I?" That's the problem with an affectation; you forget to keep it up and who you really are comes out. The realtor calls out the accent in the nicest way possible and Amanda tries to explain it, but the realtor, narrator, and I see through it.

The master bedroom looks like something out of Green Acres, but without fabulous Eva Gabor. New York is also where I'd rather stay.

The second bedroom is pretty small and Amanda whines, "This is the size of an American closet!" Here's the thing, she's right; it's the size of a closet and it's small even by European standards, but the inherent problem with going on House Hunters is that, even if your gripes are reasonable, you're always going to come off as whiny unless you're witty and most people on House Hunters aren't witty.

House #3 is a three bedroom home built in the 1960's that's $405,000.

It's also the house most likely to be seen in the movie Cemetery Junction. If you haven't seen that move, do. Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant walk the dramatic/comedic line masterfully. He likes the house because it reminds him of his parents' house, confirming my stereotype that all British towns are like Cemetery Junction. 

They again head upstairs to check out the bedrooms. The master bedroom is fine, but Amanda feels the second bedroom is too enclosed. Well, like most bedrooms, it has four walls and a door, so I guess that can feel enclosed.

It's decision time and Damanda have a lot to talk about. They eliminate House #3 first and go back and forth on House #1 and House #2.

Amanda's face really bugs me. Darren wants House #1, but Amanda still likes House #2. Darren logically points out that she needs to think about the family's needs and that her kids would probably resent her if she forced them to grow up sharing a closet-sized room. That last part goes unspoken. 

They pick House #1. Amanda says she has to "retrain [her] mind" to get used to the small rooms. We all have our crosses to bear.